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Aspect Ratio for MLS and Free Lightroom Preset

Published: 17/10/2019

Does your local MLS restrict aspect ratio? I like having the freedom to crop outside of the standard 3:2 ratio and even shoot vertical/portrait orientation. I think it's important to achieve the right composition first and foremost and that is not always landscape 3:2. If you happen to be restricted by your MLS, you might find this Lightroom preset helpful. It's a free download, and I explain how to use it in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bigwj196qjM

How do you handle delivering photos outside of landscape 3:2 orientation?

 

9 comments on “Aspect Ratio for MLS and Free Lightroom Preset”

  1. Glad you found out you were giving misinformation about cropping in areas the mls has restrictions. Giving your clients images with borders is just as bad. Do not crop. Keep the ratio and pull the top bottom sides of the image to achieve your composition without any distortion in width or height. You keep the ratio have no borders leaving you with your approved composition.

  2. I grew up doing commercial photography, primarily for advertising, back when we shot on film and the images were printed on paper.

    Cropping tended to be dictated by the ad placement, page size, etc.

    Considering those restrictions we created compositions that fit the aspect ratio dictated by the art director or paper.

    That said, Garey's suggestion to crop to improve composition is great advise.

    However, rather than using the unlocked aspect ratio option, use the 3:2, or whatever aspect ratio is specified by the MLS, client or whomever. Use the compositional aids that are included with the crop tool. The compositional aids can be scrolled using "O" or Shift "O".

    Almost every real estate image has lots of dead space around the edges that can be used. Especially the ceiling at the top of the image.

    When shooting film I almost universally composed in camera with a little "breathing room" to accommodate crops other than the aspect ratio of the film stock. With digital, specially for RE shoots, its easy to do multiple, in-camera, compositions to accommodate different aspect ratios.

    If your client, or the MLS, has an aspect ratio restriction, I'd consider using transparent tape on the LCD to indicate the aspect ratio as a reminder.

    As always, One Man's View.

  3. @Dave Clark, I respectfully disagree. But as always, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I have not given any misinformation. Of course, external and personal factors can certainly make advice more or less effective for some than others. For example, I have seen you have taken a stance many times that the use of a flash is a waste of time and completely unnecessary, and then I heard the voices of those who disagree all around you (that is, before you exclude them from the conversation by kicking them out of your Facebook group). You surely have learned that there is no "one way" to get the job done, haven't you?

    I have heard more often than not, that the main reason photographers only deliver 3:2 landscape is not because of their MLS restrictions, but because, and I quote, "my clients want it this way". I have heard the same response about several choices, like whether to turn lights on or off, or whether to shoot tighter compositions vs. ultra-wide, or how much of a window view is necessary or aesthetically pleasing.

    I do not live all by myself on an island where there are no other photographers, and am able to make and live by my own rules. I live in a major US city; Atlanta. It's a very large market and I am in the heart of it. I don't do business in a suburb. I live IN THIS CITY. I have a thousand competitors who subscribe to the same run-of-the-mill, collect-your-paycheck process, and yet I do my own thing and deliver high quality images that don't look like anyone else's. I have a book of business that I have built BECAUSE OF my compositions and lighting, and cropping, and vertical compositions. Not in spite of it.

    To unequivocally say that adhering to a certain aspect ratio is the only proper way to compose is very short-sighted, at best.

    I give my advice from my standpoint, and from my experience. It is based on my own experimentation, successes, and failures. It's called perspective. I am not wrong, and neither are you. However, there is room for all of us, so you might try to exercise a little more tact so the conversation is productive.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Dave.

  4. Where I am, the MLS is not public facing. Buyers cannot browse listings that aren't curated for them by the agent they are working with. Given that, I'm not worried about their specific requirements if it's something like banning other than 3:2 ratios. What's more important is Zillow, Trulia, Realtor and other consumer facing sites where image quality is displayed to the people that it needs to go to.

    I agree that some images are going to look better with a different crop. An argument against it is the time it takes to prepare the new canvas that contains the odd crop. If the destination was something outside of the web/MLS, a specific crop could be a good idea. I'm thinking of printed brochures or books. Higher end properties that will have a custom website or images that an agent will be sending directly to a prospective buyer is another case.

    Given the choice between fixing a crop issue and providing a brochure ready to print/email, I believe that agents may find more value in the brochure. I can bang those out pretty fast with some templates I have built. I have to stress that I am not disagreeing that cropping the image doesn't make it better in some cases, I'm saying that the improvement may be lost on our customers or there can be other things we can do that solidify relationships that take the same or less time.

    BTW, I crop my portfolio images to arbitrary ratios.

  5. @CareyGomez I will be the adult here and not attack you. You are right we all have our own way of doing things. Accomplishing the 3:2 ratio without leaving borders can be done in a simple way by setting the cropping tool at the 3:2 ratio or pulling corners from the top or bottom to make your composition without any distortion. There are many who can take images without a flash however when the ambient light is present a flash is needed. As for my FaceBook Group when people break the guidelines they are not welcome to stay. If you disagree be nice and play fair and not attack someone for what they say based on experience.

  6. I crop for effect without regard to the ultimate WxH ratio. I almost always crop vertical orientation shots, usually to 4w x 5h. Maybe I am lucky. I have been shooting professionally for 12 years. I shoot for a number of high end realtors (several 4+ million listings in the last year) and have never had an agent mention image aspect ratio to me (there was one exception, a new agent and they said that vertical shots didn't fit into the brochure template they had created themselves - shortly thereafter, they modified the template to allow vertical images).

  7. @Dave Clark ...A few comments for you. First, when someone starts their rebuttal to a point that you've made, with: "I respectfully disagree..." (as Garey did in his comment to you) that does not constitute an "attack" on you, as you've claimed. The whole point of Garey's article was to express that he does not like to adhere rigidly to a 3x2 aspect ratio... that's it.

    Second, your point about "setting the cropping tool at the 3:2 ratio or pulling corners from the top or bottom to make your composition without any distortion", only makes sense if one is shooting UFWA and then cropping, in post. Even if that assumption is correct, cropping a shot does not magically correct distortion, as you've implied. For example, if you are in a very small dining room and you are wedged into a corner and have no more room to stand farther back, there's a very high probability that due to its proximity to the camera, the plane of the dining room table top is going to be sloping downward, the closer it gets to the edge of the frame. That is simply one of the realities/consequences of wide-angle distortion...and there is no amount of cropping that you can do to fix that.

    Finally, a word about your Facebook group...you claim that on your Facebook group, "when people break the guidelines they are not welcome to stay." This is simply not true. I have personally spoken to a number of photographers who were unceremoniously booted from your group, despite not breaking guidelines. They were apparently booted simply because they disagreed with a position you had taken. I'm also aware a numerous instances when you've stopped a comment-thread within your FB group, because you started getting rebuttals to the opinion you'd expressed in the OP. Dave it is your FB group...you can behave however you want to, in your moderator role, but please don't come here on PFRE and imply that *only* those who don't follow the guidelines are the ones who get kicked out, because that is simply not true.

  8. Well I asked for my comments to be erased but you seem very hot tempered. So I am going to capitalize on this ... please join 6,933 people in our group https://www.facebook.com/groups/PhotographyForRealEstate/ .

    People never want to take responsibility for their actions so they will point the finger at the people who they disagreed with and did not want to follow that groups rules. I am not the only one who has removed folks from our group because of their actions. There are 6 admins in the group. Tony Colangelo you are welcome to join. All we ask is to follow the rules...

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